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Thursday, February 11, 2016


Alice, my legal guardian (who also farmed me out to Gram because I was too much trouble) had a lot of personality quirks. She was a lover of all dogs and cats and picked up and gave a home to lots of "strays," many of whom I think she took from their own front yards and porches. She had someone erect buildings on her property of over 100 acres to house these critters after they were cleared by veterinarians and neutered. These little buildings were heated and cooled, and she would cook huge stockpots full of food for them twice a day. They all had names and she loved every one of them. 

In contrast, her treatment of children was horrific. Trent has told me on more than one occasion that I should write a book about the tortures (and I am not using that word lightly) I suffered at her hands during the time I lived with her. Since she still has living children, one of whom is an attorney, I am hesitant to do so. After all is said and done, I can certainly do without being sued for libel, although how I could defame a dead woman and ruin her reputation is beyond me. On numerous occasions, I was beaten and dragged around, as well as subjected to humiliating punishments including being forced to clean the yard while wearing nothing but an improvised diaper. When I finished the back yard and moved to the front, she quickly ended the punishment - after all, if the neighbors saw how she treated me it would make her look bad.

She usually accompanied her abuse with a familiar soundtrack. As she threw me around the bathroom, my head bouncing off of the walls until I had a fist-sized lump on my forehead and a gushing nosebleed so bad that it scared her, she shouted the insults. When she had me bent over the kitchen table while beating me with the switch she made one of her daughters cut from a tree in the back yard, she again shouted the insults. Just like any soundtrack, there were a few different versions of these tirades. One was about how I was crazy like my father. Then there was the oldie about how I was an idiot who didn't have enough sense to come in out of the rain. Her greatest work was the one about how she wanted to adopt two girls from a reservation but ended up with me and my sister instead.

When I escaped her beatings because I was living with Gram, I was able to look at her behavior with the eyes of an informed former insider. I saw that it wasn't just children that she verbally abused. She was pure hell for the staff at any department store. Alice expected a store clerk to arrive the moment she took her intended purchases to a cash register, even if they were helping another customer. She was one of those people who would either yell for help or start to walk behind the cash register and begin fooling around with it, making the staff come running.

One of her abusive tactics was to tell the staffers that because of the lack of clerks on the floor, she would be closing her charge account with the store. She did this with one department store after another. She never stopped shopping at these stores, however. She simply took over Gram's charge plates and used them regularly. She was very good about paying the bills, but Gram had no use of her own charge accounts. On one occasion when she attempted to use the card at one of the local department stores, the transaction was rejected due to the payment being past due. She left and came to our house to use our phone to call the store and begin screaming and cursing at the person she spoke with from the credit department.

She made liberal use of insults like jackass and idiot, words that I had frequently heard used on me. She argued front, back, and sideways that the payment had been made. Despite her threats to close the account (Gram's account, mind you), the lady on the phone remained firm; the payment had not been made. Alice delivered her intended death blow. "I know the payment was made and that you have my money. The canceled check came back with my bank statement!"

When I realized what the frazzled person on the phone had said to Alice, I decided that I really needed to do something in my bedroom. With the tone of someone who is talking to a person who is clearly not bright, she told Alice that everybody knows that a canceled check means that you told your bank not to pay it when it was presented (totally wrong, it means the check was paid). Despite Alice's opinion to the contrary, I wasn't stupid enough to stick around and see the human equivalent of a nuclear explosion. To this day, I'm not really sure how the situation played out. I figured that it was a really good idea to leave the scene before I, like the check, became canceled!


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